Friday, July 21, 2017

"La Cage Aux Folles" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ !

In all entertainment, first come the stars, then the imitators. Most often we are stuck with watching people attempt to reproduce the original, a song here, a setting there. Then, if we are lucky, we get to see the real deal, the show all the imitators have been imitating. Now we understand what the fuss was all about.

Thus it is with the San Francisco Playhouse version of "La Cage Aux Folles," directed by Bill English. It has everything -- acting, dancing, intelligence and heart.

Jean-Michel (Nikita Burshteyn) has been raised by his two dads, natural father Georges (Ryan Drummond) and George's partner Albin (John Treacy Egan). Now, Jean-Michel wants to marry...a woman! Samantha Rose plays Anne, Jean-Michel's hopeful bride.

However, in order to win Anne's parents' approval, the couple must first introduce them to Georges and Albin. A homophobic, conservative French politician, Anne's father's consent will be next to impossible to attain.

 And Albin will have to be mollified. And the world as it is will have to become the world it never was. Which is possible in the theater.

 When all fails, resort to blackmail.

There are no false steps here. The show stands the test of time and this ensemble of actors brings pleasure and fun into a trying situation. Egan's Albin brings Nathan Lane to mind, while Drummond makes us smile, even when singing the melancholy showstoppers "With You on My Arm" and "Look Over There." We love Jacquelyn Scott's roundabout set, and Kimberly Richards's choreography adapts well to the small space a company of fourteen manages to inhabit. Everyone in the cast can sing, but special kudos to Nikita Burshteyn, who has a clear, soaring voice.

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ !
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants FOUR STARS with an EXCLAMATION POINT! to "La Cage Aux Folles." We might make it FIVE STARS, but usually we get a handsome payoff for one of those, like first in line at the post-show buffet or an extra cream puff. Didn't happen. So we will settle for FOUR STARS with an EXCLAMATION POINT OF THANKS. Anyone who loves musical theater, or great art, or just enjoys hearing songs written by a master, ought to hurry down to San Francisco Playhouse while tickets are available.

"La Cage Aux Folles"
San Francisco Playhouse 
450 Post St., San Francisco
(Second floor of Kensington Park Hotel)
Through Sept. 16


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